Festival mixes poetry: musical, social and nonsensical

Festival mixes poetry: musical, social and nonsensical

The fourth edition of the Bengaluru Poetry Festival took literature buffs to the Taj West End for talks, workshops and performances

Actor Siddhant Chaturvedi and actress Nimisha Dean at the session ‘MC Sher in the House’.

From queer writing to rap, this year’s edition of the Bengaluru Poetry Festival was a melting pot. Metrolife brings you the action from some sessions.

Inaugurated by Instagram poet

Gully Boy-fame Siddhant Chaturvedi, who uploads his poetry on Instagram, inaugurated the festival on Saturday. “I try to be a poet on Instagram. Poetry helps me express and complements my art,” he says.

He spoke about how he took to poetry during a 45-minute conversation with actor and model Nimisha Dean. 

“Poetry was somewhere lost, but with social media, I feel it has come back to the youth. If rightly used, it is a medium for you to have a conversation with millions of people,” he said. “Instagram used to be only about photographs, but I started writing captions expressing my thoughts,” he explained.

His poetry had few followers before he became famous overnight. Despite his busy schedule as an actor, Siddhant makes time to write.

He shared a story: he stopped reading poetry when his former love interest found out that he had presented a plagiarised version of Wordsworth’s ‘Daffodils’ to her. “I feel when I read others’ works, it influences my style of writing, which I don’t prefer,” he said.

He found solace in writing when he was bullied in school and couldn’t talk to anyone about it. “It is just me expressing my emotions,” he said.

When Nimisha asked him about his favourite place to write, he said, “To be able to write only in particular places is the biggest lie in the world. I think a person can write anytime, anywhere.”

Siddhant read a few of his poems; he rapped one of them. He later answered some questions from the audience.

‘Read more to write’

Kannada playwright and poet Dr H S Venkatesha Murthy talked about his journey as a writer in a conversation with Sindhu Rao and Veeranna Madiwalar.

He inaugurated the festival with actor Siddhant, and said he was in awe of the young generation with multiple talents. “I know to do only one thing -- writing. It is surprising to see people like Siddhant who excel in more than one art form,” he said.


(From left) Sindhu Rao, Veeranna Madiwalar and H S Venkatesha
Murthy at the session. DH PHOTOS BY B K JANARDHAN

The poet, who started writing when he was in high school, said reading was crucial to writing well. “I believe that one must read 1,000 pages to write one page,” he said.

When Sindhu asked how to get children involved in literature and writing, he said, “My worry is how to get them to learn Kannada.”

The event concluded with his advice to young poets: “Don’t always be in the present. Read about the past and focus on the future.”

Gathering of like-minded people

Radhika, a matchmaker and poetry enthusiast, has been attending the fest for three years.

“It would have been better if the inaugural event had someone who was more into poetry. Usually, we see film celebrities post-lunch, when they need to keep the people engaged. But it is different this year,” she told Metrolife.

The book stall and the sessions, she says, are a perfect way to spend the weekend. “I love poetry and am here to experience the overall atmosphere with my friends from poetry circuits,” she said.

Retired teacher and writer Roopa Kulkarni appreciated the organisers for including regional poetry. “It makes me happy to see all kinds of poets and share our love for literature with like-minded people,” she said.

Need to bridge the generation gap

‘When We Were Very Young’, a session on writing poetry for children saw Anushka Ravishankar, Hemant Deolekar and Sampurna Chattarji reading their works for children. The session was moderated by Barnali Ray Shukla.

Reading one of his ‘nonsense rhyming’ poems, Deolekar stressed the need to sensitise adults towards the world of children.

Reciting another poem, ‘Chitur Pitur’, that talks about the scribbles of a child on the walls, he said, “There is a lot of pressure on kids today; the atrocities children face are disheartening. At a time like this, it is important to sensitise people around kids to take care of and respect the innocent beings.”

Poet and novelist Sampurna Chattarji, started her session reciting a few lines of ‘I’m Sick Of Learning Lochinvar’, from her book ‘The Fried Frog and Other Funny Freaky Foodie Feisty Poems’.

She said, “I also treated this book as an exercise in smuggling, so I smuggle poems which are essentially for older people and deal with serious subjects like death, adoption, unbelonging, philosophical speculation and loneliness, all of which can be found in this book. It is all about recalibrating.”

She added that to make poetry accessible to the new generation is to tell them that it lies in things they often don’t notice or have been forgotten.

Award-winning author Anushka Ravishankar, known for her works of nonsense verse for children, began by reciting, ‘The Story of Samarpreet Sood’. Most of her work for children are for pure fun. She ended her session by reading out the fantasy poem called, ‘Excuse Me, Is This India?’    

Punjabi poetry on pain

The afternoon session, saw poetry coming all the way from Punjab with the session, ‘Peedan da Paraga’ by Sarbjot Behl and Seema Grewal. Explaining the title, Sarbjot said, “A poet assimilates all the pain (peedan) around him or her and keeps a handful to himself, which he later puts down on paper.”

Seema, recited a poem about pain and its different aspects, her second poem was about the loss of her mother and lastly, she spoke about the oppressed who are taken for granted.

Continuing the session, Sarbjot read a poem about 100 years of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. “The poem is about the experiences we have learnt from the grief-stricken event. The poem says we should learn from our past and save our future,” he said.  

Young poets take on stage 

Aspiring poets Atul Jain, Faiz Akram, Lynessa Coutto, Pooja Ugrani, Shanmukharadhya K P, Shruthi B R and Vishnu Pathak left the audience spellbound as they recited some of their best works. The session ‘Namma Poets, Boys and Girls from Bangalore’ was moderated by poet Poornima Laxmeshwar. Coming from various fields like IT, content writing, and Karnataka Administrative Service, these seven individuals were chosen out of 100 through a contest held in April and May. Moderator Poornima concluded the session with some of her best-known poems -- ‘Water as a warrant’, ‘Red is not the colour of my heart’ and one she dedicated to her tabla guru.  

‘Writing poetry is like throwing up’ 

In a session titled ‘An Actor and a Poet’ with Anuja Chandramouli, South Indian film actor and singer Andrea Jeremiah talked about her self-published poetry collection ‘Broken Wings’.

Andrea, calling herself the most amateur poet at the fest, compared writing poetry to throwing up, something which has to come out. “I don’t take time to write. It is spontaneous, even at the edge of being gross.”

When Anuja questioned her about ‘Broken Wings’ being an ‘emotional striptease’, the actor said that it was never intended to be published as it is extremely personal.

However, she decided to publish the book as she felt that “the universe sent her a sign” when she was invited to speak at poetry festivals.

The actor also read out a few poems from the book. One of the poems that she read out was written when she was going through a dark phase. She elaborated, “I was in a relationship with a married man. It was a dark time, where you feel like you can’t control anything.”


Andrea Jeremiah talks about ‘Broken Wings’.
DH PHOTOS BY S K DINESH

She also sang one of her poems titled ‘Lonely Cloud’. “Writing poetry made me find my way to songwriting,” Andrea remarked.

When Anuja asked about her poetic influences, the actor said that she is not into reading poetry. “I don’t write to be a poet, so I don’t study it. For me, it is just an expression of creative energy.” She also revealed that she intends to write a book on the identity crisis faced by the Anglo-Indian community, to which she belongs.

On that note, Anuja asked her if artistes have social responsibility. “Yes, to a certain extent. Creators of visual media and music who have the power to change or influence an entire population do have social responsibility,” she answered.

The event concluded with Andrea taking questions from the audience.

Who broke your wings? asked one. “We clip our own wings mot of the time,” she signed off.

Kannada rappers were there too...

It was a full-house for the session ‘Rap - A contemporary voice of Kannada poetry’ featuring Kannada rappers MC Bijju, Gubbi and Krazzy.

MC Bijju aka Machine Gun, who has the tag of the fastest Kannada rapper, presented some of his pieces. He explained the lyrics to the audience and
talked about how rap can be induced in poetry.

The next to take over the stage was Gubbi. He showcased a freestyle rap and his hit rap number ‘Naadamaya’, a song inspired by Dr Rajkumar’s song by the same name.

The session ended with rapper Krazzy launching his single ‘Ducati’. The song is about ‘gold-digging girlfriends’.

“Instead of spending money on your girlfriends (excluding loyal girlfriends), spend on yourself and achieve the best version of yourself,” he said.